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Huge luge breakthrough as talent system reaps rewards******
China's Fan Duoyao speeds down the track at the National Sliding Center in Yanqing on Saturday. [Photo/Xinhua]。
Former endurance skier Fan Duoyao stole the show at the Luge World Cup's Chinese debut in Yanqing over the weekend as the host continues to reap the benefits of its cross-sport talent system.。
China only began assembling a luge team in 2015, while the Olympic track at Yanqing opened just over a year ago. Yet, the nation has made rapid progress in developing luge from scratch, with Fan's history-making Cup appearance on Saturday boosting the country's preparations for next year's home Winter Olympics.。
Fan converted to the sport from cross-country skiing six years ago as part of an ambitious program to develop Chinese lugers, established after Beijing won the Olympic bid.。
He completed two runs in Saturday's men's singles final at the International Luge Federation's World Cup season opener at the National Sliding Center－the first time a Chinese athlete had competed in the sport's elite series.。
Despite finishing last among the 32 finalists with a combined time of 1 minute 59.308 seconds, Fan took pride in the huge strides China has made in the Western-dominated sport.。
"I think me being here and completing two runs today proved that our program is working as expected," said Fan, who qualified for the final after knocking out the 33rd-place finisher by a mere one-thousandth of a second in Friday's preliminary round.。
"Don't get me wrong, the gap remains quite big but it is closing. We should be encouraged that we are going in the right direction."
German luger Johannes Ludwig, a member of the country's reigning Olympic champion relay squad, won the gold in a track-record time of 1:54.597.。
Ludwig's teammate and six-time overall World Cup winner Felix Loch took silver, 0.854 seconds back. Their younger compatriot Max Langenhan, a former world junior champion, claimed bronze to underline Germany's undisputed supremacy in the sport.。
As the fastest of all three sliding sports, luge is most definitely not for the faint-hearted, with athletes hurtling down a narrow frozen track lying feet-first on a thin sled at speeds of up to 150 kph.。
The Yanqing leg of the World Cup, which doubled as an Olympic test event and qualifying meet, saw 300 local fans watch the hair-raising action track-side. It was the first time Beijing 2022 organizers welcomed spectators on site since the test events for the Winter Games began in February.。
Local resident Peng Sisi said watching world-class lugers push their limits for speed was a breathtaking experience that further whetted her appetite for the Olympics, which will open on Feb 4.。
"It was really exciting to cheer for our own athlete on a new track just built on our doorsteps. We just can't wait to welcome athletes from around the world and be a warm host to them all," she said.。
Fan's World Cup debut builds on a series of breakthroughs by Chinese athletes in sliding sports, including former long jumper Geng Wenqiang's qualification for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea and the Chinese four-man bobsled team's seventh-place finish at a World Cup meet in Switzerland in February 2020.。
The cross-sport development system, launched by China's central sports governing body in 2015, drafts athletes primarily from track and field, gymnastics and martial arts, and applies their skill sets to winter sports.。
Fan was one of eight athletes selected to the national luge team from a group of hopefuls drafted to the cross-sport program in 2015.A long hiatus from international events amid the pandemic has somewhat hamstrung their development, but Saturday's breakthrough bodes well for the future.。
"I've never been intimidated by foreign opponents because we know that with the home track ready for the Olympics we have enough runs and tests to narrow the gap to them," said Fan, a 24-year-old native of Inner Mongolia.。
Although still far from reaching the podium, Chinese athletes have undoubtedly made their presence felt on the world stage.。
"It's definitely important for our sport to go global and be promoted in new markets such as China," German luger Langenhan said through an interpreter.。
"We are happy to see a Chinese athlete join us on the World Cup stage and hopefully we will see more of them in the future."
（Source: China Daily)。
Chinese shuttler He Jiting retires from Denmark Open******
ODENSE, Denmark, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- After losing his men's doubles match at the BWF Denmark Open, Chinese shuttler He Jiting retired from the tournament here on Wednesday due to injury.
He and former partner Tan Qiang had a 5-0 record against Japan's Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi across previous encounters, but were outclassed by the same opponents on Wednesday in straight sets 21-13, 21-10.
"I was a bit exhausted, but that's not an excuse, because our opponents are the same. It's fair," said 23-year-old He.
"I did not play much in the cup games, maybe I rested too long," said Tan, "We were not feeling right until the second set, but it's too late."
Paired with Liu Xuanxuan in the mixed doubles, He announced his retirement from the tournament while trailing 6-1 in the first set to Malaysian duo Goh Soon Huat and Shevon Jemie Lai.
Liu progressed to the round of 16 in the women's doubles with partner Xia Yuting, overpowering the Canadian duo Rachel Honderich and Kristen Tsai 21-11, 21-19.
20-year-old talent Feng Yanzhe, paired with Du Yue in his BWF tournament debut, edged India's pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa 21-17, 14-21, 21-11 in the mixed doubles.
Lu Guangzu had a good start in his men's singles match against Brice Leverdez but missed a key point and lost the first set 23-21. Undeterred, the 25-year-old raised his game against his French opponent and grabbed the following two sets 21-10, 21-6.
"It's a real challenge to play so many tight games in a row," said Lu, "I'm feeling tired and a bit relaxed after the Sudirman Cup and Thomas Cup tournaments. It's important to keep a good mentality."
He Bingjiao won in straight sets against Singapore's 22-year-old Yeo Jia Min 21-14, 21-17 in the first encounter between them, booking a berth in the second round.
Wang Zhiyi edged Iris Wang of the United States 21-19, 22-20. In the women's singles match between Han Yue and Sayaka Takahashi, the 22-year-old Chinese lost their fifth encounter 21-15, 18-21, 16-21.
"It looks like I couldn't keep up with Sayaka today," said Han, "I felt the shuttle speed was a bit fast, or maybe it's because I haven't played for a while. I was impatient to counterattack and the moves are just not right." Enditem